Propolis clogged to clean/prevent

Good morning. First posting.

I have a problem with flow frames clogged with propolis which is making them hard to open and preventing honey flow. Any suggestions on cleaning and/or preventing this in the future?
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Welcome to the forum Dale where you will find lots of reading, tip and advice.
Looking at the pics I’m thinking it is bees wax rather than propolis, the bees really got carried away big time with that job and I suspect if you tried to force the frame to open the horizontal lug between the top and bottom slots could fracture as some have had that happen.
If you have a garden soil sieve then using your laundry sink with the plug in it and running hot water over the frame segments and the wax should melt off the segments, there is a recommended maximum water temp but it has slipped my mind and I’m sure others can fill that in for you. When the water cools collect the wax and keep it, don’t let it run down the drain as it will block it.
I haven’t seen a Flow Frame waxed to that extent and hope it is just a one off issue for you.

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I have no direct experience with this so take that into consideration.

The plastic may be flexible enough to crack off the propolis after putting them in the freezer and/or you could probably soak them in alcohol then rinse.

Maybe requeening with a variety of bees that uses less propolis?

When did they put all that propolis in the flow frame? Maybe having the frames on when they don’t have nectar to stash away is part of the cause?

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Whether it’s wax or propolis (made with wax and resin), it will melt out. The hot water from a home system will probably not be hot enough, but boil up some water and splash it over the frames. Don’t soak them as the heat might distort them. Splashing it along the frames should be sufficient for enough of it to melt out that the frames work properly again. You don’t need to get them surgically clean.

As stated by somebody already, don’t do it into the sink as the wax will solidify quickly and block it up. Take it outside and do it over newspaper or something similar that can be discarded.

Melting the wax off the frame as I suggested with the plug in the sink it won’t block the drain, it will solidify in the sink basin on top of the cooling water. I clean my metal QX’s that way and have had no issues.
Why discard wax when it so easy to sell and in a big demand? I sell mine to my local bee shop for $27/kg which is a lot more than honey sells for and been offered more than that.
I have a Bosch heat gun that is great for melting wax very quickly but with the propolis it doesn’t touch it, I would love to know a way of removing that off the QX’s other than using a hive tool and a knife, any suggestions?

Thanks Kim. Freezing seems to help to harden the wax/propolis which can then be chipped out with a knife. Slow, hard work.

Thanks Peter. I’m pretty sure it’s propolis. Hot water doesn’t touch it. Freezing seems to help to harden the wax/propolis which can then be chipped out with a knife. Slow, hard work.

Propolis up here doesn’t have the ‘waxy’ shine to it and doesn’t have any wax mixed in it. That is why I’m thinking of bees wax.
It is a real pain in my behind to get out of the QX where the bees seem to love blocking up the slots towards the edges.
Sounds like a long drawn out job.

Your hot water system is probably set to 50c and the propolis won’t melt below about 65c. Here’s some info

2.3. Melting Point
Propolis is soft, pliable, and sticky substance at 25°C to 45°C. Particularly, in frozen condition, it becomes hard and brittle. It will remain brittle after such treatment even at higher temperatures. Above 45°C, it will become increasingly sticky and gummy. Propolis will become liquid at 60°C to 70°C, but for some samples the melting point may be as high as 100°C.

From here

Thanks for the link Kim, A lot there to read.
The propolis I have up here is the color of dry concrete, and just as much shine to it as well. :wink: A Bosch heat gun on the high setting has no effect on it.
I don’t recall if the propolis was different when I was in the Hawkesbury and can only assume there wasn’t as much in the hives there. I sort of assumed propolis was fairly much the same but it seems it varies a lot depending on location and what the bees collect it from. Something for me to pay more attention to when following the bees into the bush.
According to my hot water system it is set to 70C, it is hot enough to melt wax off the QX’s but not fast enough for my liking, I am always time short and impatient.

If you are freezing, and it seems like you are dismantling, have you tried twisting/flexing the cold plastic parts? I am only asking because I have a rigid ice cube tray that needs a bit of twist/flex to release the cubes. The Flow frames might respond to this while cold. I would be a little gentle though, so that the plastic doesn’t fracture. However, I would guess that cold wax/propolis is a lot more fragile than the plastic. :blush:

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Thanks Dawn. Freezing isn’t perfect but it helps and I do need to be careful of the breaking the parts.

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